Scientists Spot Possible Target in Ovarian
TUESDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers seeking a way
to beat cancer have found that a particular gene, known as PAX8, is
altered in a significant number of ovarian tumors, according to a
The research is part of Project Achilles, a comprehensive effort
by scientists from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and the
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to identify weaknesses in cancers.
After analyzing the cells of more than 100 tumors, including 25
ovarian cancer tumors, the researchers reported that identifying
genes like PAX8 might help in the battle against certain types of
"In this project, we're looking for all of the Achilles' heels of cancer. That is to say, we're looking for any instance where you inactivate a gene and affect the survival of cancer cells," William Hahn, a senior associate member of the Broad Institute and an associate professor at Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School, said in an institute news release.
The researchers suppressed more than 10,000 genes in an attempt
to find those needed for cancer cells to grow and survive. The PAX8
gene was identified in nearly one-fifth of the ovarian tumors
"Not only can we characterize what genes are mutated or altered, but we can also simultaneously assess which of those are important functionally," Hahn said.
In identifying these specific genes, the investigators hope to
predict the effect of treatments targeting specific genes. They
also noted that going forward, it may be more telling to identify
tumors based on genetic mutations rather than their organ or tissue
"Many of us in the genomics field . . . were thinking that maybe someday, we won't care about the organs that cancers come from, that we will only care about the genetic mutations that drive them," said Hahn.
In the near future, the researchers said they plan further
investigation of the notoriously treatment-resistant PAX8 gene in
order to find just one gene among hundreds of thousands capable of
The study findings are published in the July 11 online edition
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute provides more information on
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